Thursday, August 28, 2008

Center Counter to BDG

One of the simplest transpositions to the Blackmar-Diemer comes when Black answers 1.e4 with 1...d5, the Center Counter or Scandinavian Defense. White plays 2.d4, opening the possibility of a BDG continuation, as in this game, which ends abruptly with a Queen sac. (Notice how Queen sacs have a tendency to do that.)

White is a Hungarian IM with a 2361 rating in the current FIDE list.

Molnar,Bela - Tcebekov,Khongor
Budapest FS05 IM Budapest (5), 05.1996
BDG, Bogoljubov Defense

1.e4 d5 2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qe1 Bf5 


9.Qh4 Bxc2 10.Bh6 e6 11.Ng5 Bxh6 12.Qxh6 Qxd4+ 13.Kh1 Bf5 14.Rxf5 gxf5 15.Bxe6 Nbd7 (15...Qe5 16.Nd5 Nbd7 17.Ne7+ Kh8 18.Nxf7+ Rxf7 19.Ng6+ Kg8 20.Nxe5 Nxe5 21.Qxf6 1-0 Gedult,D-Thelliers, 1973/Game 1598 in BDG WORLD 59) 16.Bxd7 Rad8 17.Bxf5 Rd6 18.Bxh7+ 1-0 Gedult,D-Blanchere, Paris 1973/Game 1599 in BDG WORLD 59

9...Nc6 10.Qh4 Bg4 11.Be3 Bxf3 12.Rxf3 Nh5 13.Rd1 Na5 14.g4 Nf6 15.Rd2 Nxb3 16.axb3 Qd7 17.Rg2 Rae8 18.Rh3 h5 19.gxh5 Nxh5 20.Rg5 e5 21.d5 Qd6 22.Ne4 Qxd5??

The Queen had to watch f6. 22...Qa6 was probably the best move available, but White maintains the advantage. The Knight trip from c3 to e4 to f6 proves decisive in many BDG games.

23.Qxh5! 1-0

23.Qxh5 gxh5 (23...f5 24.Rxg6 ) 24.Nf6+ Kh8 25.Rhxh5+ Bh6 26.Rxh6#

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bacrot Comes Back

Gambit, the New York Times Chess Blog. reports that Etienne Bacrot tied for first last week in the French championship with 17 year-old Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and then won a two-game playoff. Bacrot had fallen upon hard times. As Gambit reported:
He won the national championships five times in a row from 1999 through 2003 and by 2005, when he was 22, he was ranked in the top 10 in the world. His future seemed extremely bright (Garry Kasparov, the former world champion, reportedly predicted that he would soon be in the top 5 in the world). But then he had some lackluster results and basically stopped playing for a year.
Many years ago a BDG World reader sent us a BDG played against Etienne Bacrot shortly after Bacrot had won the World Juniors under 10 championship. Here's the game, with the reader's notes. Barbaut,Michel (1940) - Bacrot,Etienne (1930) Ferrieres-las-Grande, France 1993 BDG Declined, Langeheinecke Defense [Notes by Barbaut, Game 2166 in BDG World 70 ] 1.e4 d5 2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Bf5 4.f3 e3
I don't think this system is an antidote to the BDG! 5.Bxe3 e6 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 Nf6 8.Nge2 8.Nh3 c6 (8...h6 9.Nf4 Nbd7 10.Ng6 fxg6 11.Qxg6+ Ke7 12.d5 c5 13.0–0–0) 9.0–0–0 Nbd7 10.g4 h6 11.Nf2‚ 8...c6 9.Ng3 Bb4 10.0–0 Bxc3 11.bxc3 11.Qxc3 Nd5–+ 11...Nbd7 12.Ne4 0–0 13.Bg5 Qe7 13...h6 14.Bh4 g5 15.Bg3 seems dangerous for Black. 14.Rae1 Rfd8 15.f4 Qa3
Black counterattack on the Queenside. I didn't foresee this idea. 16.Nxf6+ Nxf6 17.Qg3 Kh8 18.Bxf6 18.Re3! a good move, preventing a Queen exchange. 18...Qxa2 19.Qh4 Qxc2 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.Qxf6+ Kg8 22.Rg3+ Kf8 23.Rg7 Rd7 24.Qg5+- 18...gxf6 19.Qh4 Qe7 20.Rf3
I thought he couldn't avoid mate. I feel guilty. But 20.f5! is stronger. 20...Rg8 21.Rh3 with just a few seconds for both players. 21...Rg7 22.Re5 After the game Etienne suggested 22.f5!, but it's less strong than at move 20. 22.f5 Rag8 23.Re2 Qd8 22...Qa3
23.Re1 If 23. Rh5 then 23. ... Qc1, and at worst, Black has a draw. Play continued for another 20 moves or so, but it was too fast for me to remember anything. But... 0–1.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Diemer in Transition

This week I celebrated my 72nd birthday. You can't blame me for thinking that was a good year, the year of my birth, 1936 Coincidentally, Diemer wrote that 1936 was the year he played his first Blackmar-Diemer Gambit on the international stage, at a tourney in Czechoslovakia. (Diemer-Fux, Game 1162 in BDG World). However, he had not yet deserted his old favorite, the Colle. Witness this game from the same event: Diemer,EJ - Florian,Tibor [A47] Podiebrady, 1936 Colle System (Game 2176 in BDG World ) 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 b6 3.e3 Bb7 4.Nbd2 e6 5.Bd3 d5 6.Ne5 Be7 7.f4 0-0 8.Qf3 c5 9.c3 Nc6 10.0-0 Re8 11.g4 g6 12.h4 Bf8 13.f5 exf5 14.gxf5 Rxe5 15.fxg6 Re6 16.gxh7+ Kh8 17.Qg3
17...Bd6 Here Diemer wrote: Why didn't I play my Queen directly to g2? I don't know anymore. 18.Qg2 Rxe3 19.Nf3 Rxd3 20.Bh6 Bf8 21.Ng5 Qc7
22.Rxf6 Diemer gave 22.Nxf7+ Kxh7! (22...Qxf7 23.Rxf6! Qxh7 24.Bxf8!) 22...Rg3 23.Nxf7+ Kxh7 24.Ng5+ Kh8 25.Nf7+ Qxf7 26.Rxf7 Rxg2+ 27.Kxg2 Bxh6 28.Rxb7 Rg8+ 29.Kf2 Rg7 30.Rxg7 Kxg7 31.dxc5 bxc5 32.Rd1 d4 33.Kf3 Kf6 34.Ke4 Ke6 35.Rg1 Be3 36.Rg6+ Kd7 37.h5 Ne7 38.Rf6 Bg5 39.Ra6 Nc6 40.cxd4 cxd4 41.a3 Be3 42.b4 Kc7 43.h6!
43...Bxh6 44.b5 Kb7 45.Rxc6 Be3 46.a4 Bg1 47.a5 Bf2 48.Rf6 Be3 49.Rf7+ Kb8 50.Rd7 Bd2 51.a6 Be3 52.Kd5 Bf4 53.Kc6 Ka8 54.Rd8+ Bb8 55.b6 1-0 Not a BDG, but representative of Diemer's burn-all-bridges style. His young opponent went on to become an international master.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Future Champ Declines

The Swiss player Ralph Buss is now an FM. Back in 1999 he gave a future world champion a chance to refute the Blackmar-Diemer. Would the gambit be accepted? Buss,R (2194) - Kramnik,V (2755) Simultaneous, Zürich, 05.09.1999 BDG Declined, Langeheinecke Defense [Notes by Buss] 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 e3
Mit diesem Zug hatte ich am wenigsten gerechnet. Er ist jedoch bei Weitem nicht so schlecht wie sein Ruf. (I had least expected this move. However, it is not nearly as bad as its reputation.) 5.Bxe3 e6 6.Bd3 [6.f4!?] 6...Nbd7 7.Nge2 c5 8.0-0 Be7 9.Bf2 0-0 10.Ne4 b6 11.c3 Bb7 12.N2g3 Qc7 13.Qc2 c4 14.Be2 b5 15.Rfe1 a6 16.Nf1 Rfe8 17.Nfd2 Rac8 18.Bd1 Bd5 19.Bg3 Qc6 20.f4 Nxe4 21.Nxe4 f5 22.Ng5 Nf6 23.Bf3 Bf8 24.Bxd5 Nxd5 25.Re2 h6 26.Nf3 Bd6 27.Ne5 Qb7 28.a3 Nf6 29.Bf2 Ne4 30.Ree1 a5 31.Qe2 Qd5 32.Qh5 Bxe5 33.fxe5 Ra8 34.Be3 Qd7 35.g4 Qf7 36.Qxf7+ Kxf7 37.Rf1 g6 38.gxf5 gxf5 39.d5 Rg8+ 40.Kh1 exd5 41.Rxf5+ Ke6 42.Raf1 Rg6 43.Rh5 b4 44.axb4 axb4 45.cxb4 Rb8 46.Bd4 Rxb4 47.Rg1 (=)
Eine mögliche Folge wäre (A possible continuation would be): 47...Rxg1+ 48.Kxg1 Rb3 49.Rxh6+ Ke7 50.Rh7+ Ke6 51.Rh6+ 1/2-1/2

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another Recent Teichmann Defense

We tend to see a lot of Teichmann Defenses to the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, especially from players who don't play the white side of the BDG that much themselves. Here's another recent one, of interest because White plays the 8.Qf2 line and then castles queenside, which is almost never seen in this variation. Larsen,Bjorn - Hansen,SoO (1682) Baltic Sea Cup Bornholm DEN (4), 31.Jul.2008 BDG, Teichmann Defense 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 c6 8.Qf2 e6
9.Bd2 The game considered the Stammpartie of this variation went 9.Bd3 Bb4 10.0-0 0-0 11.Qh4 Nbd7 12.Bg5 Re8 13.Rf3 Be7 14.Raf1 g6 15.Rxf6 Nxf6 16.Bxf6 Bxf6 17.Rxf6 Kg7 18.Ne4 Qxd4+ 19.Kh1 Qxb2 20.c3 Qa3 21.Qf4 Qe7 22.Qe5 Kg8 23.Ng5 Rf8 24.Bc4 b5 25.Bb3 a5 26.Rxe6 1-0 Ciesielski-Friedrich, correspondence 1972 (Game 1972 in BDG WORLD 63) 9...Be7 10.0-0-0 0-0 11.Bd3 Nbd7 12.g4 b5 13.Qh4 Ne4 14.g5² Nxg5 15.Rdg1 h6 16.Qg3 Qb8 17.Bf4 e5 18.dxe5 Ne6 19.h4 Bf6??
Better is 19...Re8 20.Bf5 (20.Bxh6 Qxe5) 20...Bf8 20.exf6 Qxf4+ 21.Qxf4 Nxf4 22.Rxg7+ Kh8 23.Rh7+ Kg8 24.Rg1+ Ng6 25.Bxg6 fxg6 26.Rxd7 Rxf6 27.h5 g5 28.Ne4 Rf4 29.Nxg5 hxg5 30.Rxg5+ Kh8 31.Rgg7 Rh4? 32.Rh7+ Kg8 33.h6
33.Rdg7+ Kf8 34.Rg1+- is a faster win. 33...Rg4 34.Rhf7 Rd8? 34...Rg6 holds out longer: 35.h7+ Kh8 36.Rxa7 Rxa7 37.Rxa7 Rg1+ 38.Kd2 Rh1 35.h7+ 1-0 35...Kh8 36.Rxd8+ Rg8 37.Rxg8#

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Cruel Game

Chess can be so cruel. In a game played earlier this month Black parries everything White comes up with through 34 moves, and then with one unfortunate lapse throws it all away. Menac Comas,J (2096) - Almeida Quintana,O (2524) XXXIV Open Badalona ESP (1), 01.Aug.2008 Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, Teichmann Defense 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.g4 Bg6 8.Ne5 e6 9.Qf3 c6 10.g5 Nfd7 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Bd3 Bd6
[12...Be7 13.0-0 Rf8 14.h4 Nb6 15.Qg4 Nd5 16.Bd2 Nd7 17.Qxe6 Nc5 18.Qe2 Nxd3 19.Qxd3 Qd7 20.Qe4 Nxc3 21.bxc3 0-0-0 22.Rae1 Bd6 23.Qg2 Rde8 24.Rxe8+ Rxe8 25.Qf3 f5 26.gxf6 gxf6 27.a4 Rh8 28.Be1 f5 29.Bg3 f4 30.Be1 g5 31.hxg5 Qf5 0-1 Oppici-De Blasio, Italian Correspondence CS, 1992 (Game 1817 in BDG WORLD 65] 13.0-0 Qe7 14.Be3 Nb6 15.Ne4 Bc7 16.c4 N8d7 17.b4 0-0 18.a3 e5 19.Rae1 exd4 20.Bxd4 Ne5 21.Bxe5 Bxe5 22.h4 a5 23.c5 axb4 24.axb4 Nd5 25.Nd6 Bd4+ 26.Kh1 Qd7 27.Bc4 b6 28.b5 Bxc5 29.bxc6 Qxd6 30.Bxd5 Ra3 31.Bb3 Qd4 32.Bxf7+ Kh8 33.Qe4 Qd6 34.Be6 Rxf1+ 35.Rxf1 Re3??
36.c7 1-0. Threatening to queen the c-pawn, but more importantly, clearing the line for the White Queen to a8. This games says nothing about the BDG, other than it can produce tactical encounters, but we knew that.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Down in Flames!

In an earlier post I gave a game where GM Susan Polgar defended successfully against a BDG. Here she plays white, gets up a tempo after three moves, and ... loses. This is from BDG World 45, May 1991. The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Goes Down in Flames By Walter H. Wood My preference as Black against the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is 1. d4 d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. Nc3 e5!, the Lemberger Countergambit. If white avoids this with 1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 then Black can play the Hübsch Gambit (2. .... Nf6 3. e4 Nxe4!) or even 3... e6 with a classical French Defense. But what if you forget this and accidentally get snookered into a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit accepted? Try the ideas in the following game which I found unannotated in Inside Chess, vol. 4, issue 3, p. 3. In this game, which transposes into the Bogoljubov Defense (normally 1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. e4 dxe4 4. 13 exf3 5. Nxf3 g6), Black actually loses a tempo in the opening by moving his Queen pawn twice, and still wins! Polgar,Zsuzsa (2510) - Anand,Viswanathan (2600) New Delhi, 1990 (Game 0941 in BDG World) 1.d4 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.f3 d5 4.Nc3 dxe4
White is a tempo ahead of the normal BDG and could equalize material and have a mobile pawn center by playing 5.fxe4. Perhaps fearing the reply 5...e5! (suggested by Doug Decker) she continues in gambit style. 5.Bg5 exf3 6.Nxf3 g6 7.Bc4 Bg7 8.Ne5 With this move White commits herself to an attack on f7 and "moves the same piece twice" without sufficient provocation. I think 8.0-0 "reserves the greater option" for the N and should be stronger. 8...0-0 9.0-0 Nbd7
10.Kh1 If 10. Qe1 Nxe5 11.dxe5 Qd4 + is very annoying. Hence White takes time to remove her King from the g1-a7 diagonal. The need to relinquish this tempo is evidence that White has strayed. 10...c6 Black proceeds to control d5 which is vital to the defense. White frequently wins when Black fails to stop the advance d4-d5. Notice that 10. e6? would weaken f6 and obstruct the QB. Black's KP belongs right where it is — on e7 11.Qf3 I would have tried 11.Qe1 with the idea Qh4 as in the Studier Attack. 11...Nb6 12.Bb3 If the white Q were now on h4, white would be able to play 12. Bd3 (I once asked Richard Shorman where the B should go in this type of position and he said "d3"). 12...Bf5 [Anand avoids 12...Qxd4 13.Nxf7 Rxf7 14.Rad1 Qe5 15.Rd8+ Bf8 16.Bxf6 exf6 17.Qxf6 Qxf6 18.Rxf6] 13.Rad1 Nfd5 Preventing d4-d5 and threatening ...f6. Dual purpose moves! 14.Qg3 Be6 Responds to White's threat of Rf5, protects 17, reinforces d5, and renews the threat of ...f6. How often strong moves have multiple simultaneous functions! White's attack has fizzled and Black now begins to take the initiative. The remaining moves were: 15.Bd2 Nc7 16.Ne2 Bxb3 17.axb3 Ne6 18.Nf3 Nd5 19.c4 Nf6 20.Qh4 Qb6 21.b4 Rad8 22.Ra1 Ra8 23.Bc3 a6 24.Ne5 Qc7 25.Rf3 Rad8 26.Raf1 h6 27.Re3 Ng5 28.Ng3 Qc8 29.Rfe1 Rd6 30.Qf4 Ne6 31.Qh4 Nxd4 32.Bxd4 g5 33.Qh3 Qxh3 34.gxh3 Rxd4 35.Nf5 Rf4 36.Nxe7+ Kh7 37.b3 Rd8 38.Nd3 Re4 39.Nc5 Rxe3 40.Rxe3 Bf8 41.Nf5 a5 42.Nxb7 Rd1+ 43.Kg2 Bxb4 44.c5 Nd5 45.Re8 Rd2+ 46.Kf3 Rd3+ 47.Ke4 Rxb3 48.Rc8 Bc3 49.Nd8 Ba1 50.Rxc6 Nf6+ 51.Rxf6 Bxf6 52.Nxf7 a4 53.c6 Rc3 0-1 An instructive performance by the rising Indian star.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Piece Placement in the BDG

After playing over thousands of Blackmar-Diemer Gambits I sat down one day to see if I could summarize the more usual development of White's pieces. Tim Sawyer liked the result well enough to ask permission to use it at the beginning of his second edition of his Keybook.

The BDG is a classic gambit, in which white trades material for a compensating advantage in time and space, and seeks to capitalize on that advantage with a direct attack on the enemy king. White obtains quick development, open lines, and active pieces. Black must defend carefully, but strike a prudent balance between aggression and passivity, seeking to gradually equalize in time and space, when his material advantage may become telling.

Pawns: The pawn structure provides white half-open e and f-files as avenues for pressure from his rooks. On the negative side, white's d-pawn is weak on a file that is half-open to black, whose counterplay often involves an assault on this pawn with c5.

Knights: White's knights are classically developed to c3 and f3, the latter with the capture of the black pawn that is the distinguishing move of the gambit. From f3 this knight often reaches e5, striking deep into black territory, while simultaneously opening the f-file for white's rook after white has castled kingside. The knight on c3 often participates via e4 on attacks on black's f6-square, often the Achilles heel of the black position. In more positional games it may be required to retreat to e2 to hold d4 and allow c3 to further reinforce that square.

Bishops: The development of white's bishops best awaits the determination of black's pawn structure, further confirmation of one of the axioms of chess, "knights before bishops." When black fianchettoes his bishop to g7 white's B/f1 usually goes to c4, bearing on the f7 square, while in most other lines the bishop is better placed at d3. From there it often has the opportunity for classic sacs on the h7-pawn. Where to place white's B/c1 is not as clear. Often it pins the black knight at f6 and increases the pressure on that square. Sometimes it goes to f4 to help control e5 and threaten tricks with the N/c3 against black's queenside, but it has the disadvantage there of at least temporarily blocking the f-file to white's rook. Finally this bishop is developed to e3 in some lines to help hold the d-pawn--a task I personally find distasteful.

Rooks: Since white's rooks come into play later in the game, their development is even more dependent on the course of the game to that point. However, they are often doubled on the f-file, bringing tremendous pressure against the key f6-square. The R/a1 also often goes to the half-open e-file or to d1 to support the white d-pawn, or in anticipation of that half-open file soon being fully opened.

Queen: The white queen frequently joins in a kingside attack from h4, reaching there via e1, or taking an extra tempo, by way of d2 and f4. In some cases the queen may go to d2 to support a bishop on g5 and later trade off a black bishop at g7. In other cases the queen may need to go to e2.

King: Finally, the white king usually castles kingside. This allows it to reach safety at the earliest possible opportunity while at the same time bringing the R/h1 to the half-open f-file. In more positional BDGs the king sometimes castles long, but usually the extra time this takes does not seem to square with the essential concepts of the gambit.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tartakower Plays the BDG

Tartakower was one of the few grandmasters who was willing to give the BDG a try now and then. (That's only one of many reasons he has long been my favorite GM.) Here's one of his games where Black declines the gambit with an inferior line. Tartakower - Raizman Paris Christmas Tournament, 1954/55 [Game 261c in Diemer's book, his notes after Tartakower] 1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nc3 e5 5.dxe5 Qxd1+ 6.Kxd1 Nfd7 7.Nd5 c6 8.Nc7+ Kd8 9.Nxa8 Nxe5 "...eine Idee des französischen Meisters Raizman, mit der er in der letzen Runde des internationalen Weihnachtsturniers in Paris 1954/55 GM Dr. S. Tatakower überraschte, dessen Kommentar im Turnierbuch ich folge..." ("an idea of the French master Raizman, with which he surprised GM Dr. S. Tatakower (whose commentary in the tournament book I follow) in the last round of the international Christmas tournament in Paris 1954/55 ..."} 10.Be3 c5 11.Ke1 Bd6 12.Rd1 Ke7 13.Nc7 Bxc7 14.Bxc5+ Kf6 15.fxe4 Nbc6 16.Nf3 Re8 17.Be2 g5 18.Rf1 Kg6 19.Bd6 Ba5+ 20.c3 Ng4 21.Rd5 h6 22.Nd4 Bb6 [22...Ne3 23.Nxc6 Nxd5 24.Nxa5+-] 23.Bxg4 Bxg4 24.e5 Nxd4 25.Rxd4! [25.cxd4 Be6 26.Rb5 Bc4 27.Rf6+ Kg7] 25...Bxd4 26.Rf6+ Kg7 27.cxd4 Be6 28.b3 Rc8 29.Kd2 Rc6 30.Rf2 a5 31.Kd3 Bd5 32.g3 Rc1 33.Ba3 Rc6 34.Be7 a4 35.bxa4 Ra6 36.Rc2 Rxa4 37.a3 Ra5 38.Rc7 Rb5 39.Bb4 Kg6 40.Rd7 Be6 41.Rd6 Kf5 42.h3 h5 43.Ke3 Rd5 44.Rb6 Rd7 45.Bc5 Kg6 46.Ke4 Kh7 47.h4! gxh4 48.gxh4 Bd5+ 49.Kf5 Kg7 50.Kg5 Bf3 51.Rf6 Bd1 Black offered a draw here. 52.Bd6 Rd8 53.Rf1 Bg4 54.Rb1 [54.Rc1 Rc8 55.Rxc8 Bxc8 56.Kxh5 f6] 54...Bf3 55.Rb3 Bd5 56.Rc3 Kh7 57.Rc5 [57.Kxh5? Rg8 threatening Be6 and Bg4#] 57...Be6 [57...Rg8+ 58.Kf6] 58.d5 Bg4 59.Rc7 Rd7 60.Rxd7 Bxd7 61.Kxh5 Ba4 62.Bb4 Bb3 63.d6 Be6 64.Kg5 1-0

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Sneiders Attack

A popular line to avoid the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is called the Lemberger Countergambit, marked by the move (1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3) e5. On April 28, 1960, in a tournament in his hometown of Lansing, Michigan, Edgar Sneiders tried a new approach against 3...e5: Sneiders,E - Kelly,J Lansing, Michigan, 1960 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 e5 4.Qh5 4...exd4 5.Bc4 Qe7 6.Bg5 Nf6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 8.Nd5 Qd6 9.0-0-0 Nc6 10.Ne2 g6 11.Qh4 Be6 12.Nf6+ Kd8 13.Bxe6 Qxe6 14.Nxd4 Nxd4 15.Rxd4+ Kc8 16.Rxe4 Bh6+ 17.Kb1 Qc6 18.Qh3+ Kb8 19.Nd7+ Kc8 20.Ne5+ Qe6 21.Nxf7 Qxh3 22.gxh3 Kd7 23.Rd1+ Kc6 24.Re6+ Kc5 25.Nxh6 and White won. "Certainly a totally original game,” remarked E. J. Diemer in his chess column, which was reprinted in the second issue of Kampars’ Blackmar Diemer Gambit (March 1962). In fact this game was the stammpartie, the original example of what has come to be known as the Sneiders Attack in the Lemberger Countergambit. One may be at first tempted to dismiss White's early Queen excursion as a patzer's move, but Sneiders was a master, not a patzer. Closer examination reveals the move is not that easy to refute. In the November 1988 issue of BDG World I included a comprehensive overview of this variation, which is much too long to reprint here.

In a 1987 letter to Anders Tejler, Edgar commented on his namesake. Do you want to know the history of the Sneiders Attack and how it was born? Well, here it is: About 20 years ago when I was very active in the BDG movement I played in one OTB tournament 4.Qh5, which evidently was "the First", as Herr Diemer promptly honored me by attaching my name to this move. Afterwards I had hardly any opportunity to play 4.Qh5, as in those days 3…e5 was very seldom played. So I never analyzed it and forgot the whole thing. Then I became dormant for about 10 years and did not play chess at all.

I resumed my BDG games again after Walter Schneider coerced me to join one of his BDG tournaments. To my amazement I discovered that in the meantime lots had been written and analyzed about 4.Qh5. There were strong suggestions that 4…Nc6 refutes the Sneiders Attack. I do not know! I must say that in comparison to German BDG-ers I was the least knowledgeable guy on my own attack.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More about Kampars (and Fischer)

In 1957 Nick Kampars played a young Bobby Fischer in the New Western Open in Milwaukee. The luck of the draw gave Kampars the black pieces--otherwise we might have had a game with the future world champion defending against the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

Fischer,RJ - Kampars,N [B11] 1034 Milwaukee, New Western Open, 1957

1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4

Kampars plays sharply against the Caro Kann Two Knights. Within a couple of years after this game his opponent was facing the likes of Keres, Petrosian, Smyslov, and Larsen in the same line.

4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 e6 6.d4 Nd7 7.Bd3 dxe4 8.Nxe4 Ngf6 9.0-0 Nxe4 10.Qxe4 Nf6 11.Qe3 Nd5 12.Qf3 Qf6 13.Qxf6 Nxf6 14.Rd1 0-0-0 15.Be3 Nd5 16.Bg5 Be7 17.Bxe7 Nxe7 18.Be4 Nd5 19.g3 Nf6 20.Bf3 Kc7 21.Kf1 Rhe8 22.Be2 e5 23.dxe5 Rxe5 24.Bc4 Rxd1+ 25.Rxd1 Re7 26.Bb3 Ne4 27.Rd4 Nd6 28.c3 f6 29.Bc2 h6 30.Bd3 Nf7 31.f4 Rd7 32.Rxd7+ Kxd7 33.Kf2 Nd6 34.Kf3 f5 35.Ke3 c5 36.Be2 Ke6 37.Bd3 Drawn.

Fischer finished with 6 of a possible 8 points in a strong field. Larry Evans and Donald Byrne shared first with 7, and another Latvian, Paul (Povilas) Tautvaisas came in with 6.5 points. Yes, this is the same Tautvaisas who turned back Diemer's BDG at Esslingen, Germany in 1948 (Game 70a in Diemer's book). Fischer's only loss was to Mel Otteson (who was on the losing side of a BDG we previously published--Game 702 in BDG World).

The next year Fischer was a grandmaster. As for Kampars, I don't know how he finished in the tournament. But a draw with Black against Bobby Fischer, yes, even a young Bobby Fischer, is good enough for me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Nikolajs Kampars

I wrote this for the August 1983 issue of BDG World. Today I reprint it on the 36th anniversary of Kampars' death. The sketch is by Rob Rittenhouse.

 "The most imaginative player I ever corresponded with; a modest man; a truly great character." Nice words, and as they say, unsolicited -- all describing the man once called "the American Diemer," Nikolajs Kampars. Kampars died on August 5, 1972. This August issue seemed an appropriate time to remember him, his games, and a few of his contributions to the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. I have always regretted that I discovered the BDG too late to have known or corresponded with Kampars.

My information on his life is limited. Originally from Latvia, he evidently came to the United States in the early 1950s after having lived for a time in Austria. There he was acquainted with Alfred Freidl; in fact the two played together in a 1948 tournament which Kampars won. One paragraph in a 1967 letter from Kampars to Freidl tells some about his background, much about his character.

If you should publish my games, dear friend, than refer to me simply as N. Kampars. It is true that I am a lawyer, that I attended the university in Riga, and that I have my diploma. But I have not worked at my profession for thirty years, and what use is an academic title to me when I work in a bakery in the USA? I would also have difficulties with my friends at work if I were to say I am a doctor. Whoever wants to be known in chess circles as professor, architect, lawyer, and so forth--let them have their fun. Not I.

Kampars settled in Milwaukee, and apparently quickly became active in chess there, winning 'the city championship in 1955. In his book, Diemer included the first 16 moves of one of Kampars' games from that event, with the comment, "the first Blackmar Gambit, since A. E. Blackmar, in the USA?" Probably not, but was it Kampars' first here? His opponent, by the way, was also fond of playing the BDG.
N. Kampars - O. M. J. Wehrley, Milwaukee 1955, Vienna Defense.

In February 1962 Kampars began his magazine Blackmar - Diemer Gambit. It originally appeared as a four page insert in the Latvian magazine, Chess World, and concentrated on the BDG (and closely related openings) almost exclusively. With the January 1964 issue, Kampars began to publish independently of Chess World. At the same time he expanded his magazine to include openings other than the BDG, and renamed it Opening Adventures. From then until failing health forced him to discontinue publication with the May 1967 issue, Kampars insured that this modest little magazine was true to its name. There were indeed delightful adventures in its pages: gambits of all sorts and sizes, and still plenty of BDGs, of course.

Although by all accounts a modest man, Kampars nevertheless often published his own games, sometimes annotated by then Senior Master (now Grandmaster) Edmar Mednis.
N. Kampars - J. Blakeslee, Correspondence 1963, Rasa-Studier Gambit

In the next game Black defends well through 20 moves, but then locks himself out of any counterplay.
N. Kampars - C. C. C. Harding, Correspondence 1964/65, Bogoljubov Defense

Kampars did much to popularize the BDG through his writings, but he made other contributions as well. His name lives on in BDG literature in the gambit he originated in the Vienna Defense, one of the sharpest lines in an opening overrun with sharp lines. However, I suspect he might most wish to be remembered for yet another accomplishment: the First BDG World Correspondence Championship. It was his idea -- Anders Tejler has said it was his dream -- and it came to pass in September 1965, when 276 players from 25 countries began play in 40 preliminary sections. Seven years and over 2,000 games later, (now IM) Georg Danner of Austria emerged the winner. Kampars participated in the preliminary and intermediate rounds. Here is one of his games.
M. Peilen - N. Kampars, 1st BDG World, 1968/69 Gunderam Defense

Kampars did not live to see his dream concluded. When he died, almost three years before the final round ended, the tournament was renamed the Nikolajs Kampars Memorial Tourney. It was a fitting memorial to the man Alfred Freidl has rightly called "an enduring champion of the BDG."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Edgar Sneiders

Modesty is a virtue not often found among poets, for almost every one of them thinks himself the greatest... Those words from Cervantes fit chessplayers equally well, but Edgar Sneiders was the exception. For a player of such skill he was uncharacteristically unassuming, often self-effacing. When I asked him for biographical data several years ago he replied, "you have to exhaust the list of the more prominent members of the Gemeinde first. I am bashful, you know." Edgar SneidersEdgar was born in Rauna, Latvia on March 25, 1912, and grew up on a farm. He married while a young man and took a job in a sugar factory. But soon the chaos of World War II and the Russian occupation of Latvia were upon him. In 1943 he and his wife escaped to Germany, where later upon Allied occupation of Germany they lived for a time in a camp for displaced persons.

After the war the Sneiders came to the United States, at first working in the tobacco fields of Kentucky for $12 a week. Some of their old friends from Latvia had settled in Lansing, Michigan and the Sneiders soon joined them. In 1951, Edgar began work there as a laborer at the city sewage treatment plant. When he retired in 1977, he was the superintendent of a new $14 million plant.

Like many American fans of the BDG, Edgar was introduced to the opening by another Latvian-American, Nikolajs Kampars. In a 1972 letter to Kampars, Edgar wrote, "Remember, we were assigned to the same CCLA section some years ago. At that time you mentioned that such a gambit existed, and that I should try my hand at it. So I did, and got hooked forever:" In that letter, which was written under protest and only after much prompting from Kampars, Edgar noted that in the late 1950s he "played quite a bit over-the-board. At one time I had more than 2200 points accumulated, which was good enough for my Master's 'degree'." (Edgar was also fond of bridge.) "I also held the title of Lansing's champ for a number of years. Michigan Amateur champ was I once."

A 1963 issue of Opening Adventures carries the report of a simultaneous exhibition conducted by Sneiders following a tournament in Lansing. Competing against 24 of the tournament entrants, Edgar won 22 games, drew 2, and lost none. Since the exhibition lasted just over two hours, he spent only about five minutes per game. Edgar noted that he still enjoyed playing five-minute speed chess now and then, and that in his youth in Latvia he had won several speed championships. "About two years ago I by chance participated in one Michigan Speed Championship Tournament. To my astonishment I walked away with the champ's title. The result was 13-0." Time apparently had little effect on Edgar's abilities. In 1984 he and his wife Hildegarde attended a large reunion of Latvian exiles in West Germany, where one of many activities was a speed chess tourney. A report of the event in a German chess magazine noted that it was won by 72 year old Edgar Sneiders over 18 other participants.

The pages of Opening Adventures abound with many of Edgar's brilliancies in correspondence chess. He was the highest American finalist in the First BDG World Correspondence Championship, finishing eighth in a field of 21. For about ten years following that tourney Edgar essentially withdrew from chess, but when he returned to correspondence play in the early 1980s, he seemed still to overcome time itself. He recently came in clear first in a strong tournament organized by Walter Schneider, ahead of five finalists from the First BDG World (including the second and third place finishers) and a top finisher from the Second BDG World Finals.

It's impossible to choose Edgar's "best" games—he played so many, and so many are good ones. He wrote Kampars that "you are in a much better position to select. All my past games are in a hopeless mess somewhere among other junk. I do not have any system, therefore every new BDG game is also a new experience for me." And while Edgar was always ready to help a friend with analysis or comments on a variation, he was characteristically modest about his games. "I have never annotated a game in my life, and do not feel like starting now. One has to be rather precise in his comments in order to do a good job." That's okay. With or without notes, Edgar's games are a great joy. Playing over them provides some small appreciation for his great talents, together with the realization that when Edgar left us on June 7, 1988, the Blackmar Gemeinde lost one of its finest members.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Big Diemer Win

Here's an example of Diemer's, er, shall we say exuberant, style of annotation, which I faithfully translated from his German article. It's one of his classic victories. Diemer,EJ - Gereben,Erno Zwolle, 1959 On the third day after Beverwijk, in the third round of the international tournament in Zwolle I met IM Gereben. (I had easily won the first two games, an Alapin Gambit Declined again de Vries, a BDG against Schijf.) For the first time I overran an international master with the BDG, aided to be sure (or naturally!?) by the furious time pressure on my opponent. 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 The most natural answer, but as this more or less forced loss shows, probably already the mistake. 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 c6 8.Be3 e6 9.Bd3 Nbd7 10.0-0 Be7 The critical position. The attempt to aim for 0-0-0 with Nbd7 and Qc7 is almost always unsuccessful, since White can proceed even more rapidly with his mating attack. 11.Rf2 0-0 12.Raf1 Qa5 13.g4! The classical position of the BDG, where already all White pieces bear on the Black King, while Black plays practically two rooks down. 13...h6 After ... 75 minutes! 14.h4 c5 Now my opponent had only 15 minutes for the remaining 26 moves. 15.g5 And here I had used only 20 minutes! 15...hxg5 16.hxg5 cxd4 17.Qh3?! [17.Bxd4 Qxg5+ 18.Kh1 Qh4+ 19.Rh2 Qxd4 20.Qh3 Nh5 21.Bh7+!-tvp] 17...dxe3 18.Rg2 Naturally I also considered 18. Rh2!? and 18. gxf6 and above all 18. Rxf6!?, but the text move appeared to be the safest and--most poisonous! 18...Rfc8!! Could have meant his salvation, or more, if after... 19.gxf6 ...instead of... 19...Nxf6? 19...Bxf6!! had been played. That is, considered objectively, probably a winning position for Black. In any case I'm still unable to find any forced attacking continuation for White, since the Black King will probably be able to reach safety at c7. But I would probably have still won, for this position is so full of snares that no one would have been able to survive the remaining 22 moves in the few seconds left. 20.Qh6 Although he used the rest of his time before he played 19. ...Nxf6, my opponent had simply overlooked this. 20...g6 21.Bxg6 Black resigned, as mate is unavoidable. 1-0

Friday, August 1, 2008

A BDG Movie

This morning I thought I'd check and see if anyone had uploaded any Blackmar-Diemer material on YouTube. I didn't find a lot, but did come across this well-done game, another Teichmann Defense. The narrator is Waldemar Moes, a Dutch chess trainer and teacher. Nicely done. Now here's the other side of the story. Do notice who is handling the black pieces. Deutschmann,Matthias (2166) - Polgar,Zsuzsa (2577) Lasker Museum Celebration Berlin, 20.10.2005 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.g4 Bg6 8.Ne5 c6 9.h4 e6 10.h5 Be4 11.Nxe4 Nxe4 12.Qf3 Nd6 13.Bd3 f6 14.Nc4 Nxc4 15.Bxc4 Qxd4 16.Bxe6 Nd7 17.Be3 Ne5 18.Qe2 Qxb2 19.0-0 Qa3 20.h6 Rd8 21.Rad1 Rxd1 22.Rxd1 gxh6 23.Qf2 Bd6 24.Bb3 Rf8 25.Qf5 Kd8 26.Bxh6 Re8 27.Qxf6+ Kc7 28.Bf4 Nf3+ 29.Kg2 Bxf4 30.Qxf4+ Ne5 31.Re1 Qc5 32.Re4 b6 33.a4 Kb7 34.Qe3 Qxe3 35.Rxe3 h6 36.Kg3 Kc7 37.c3 Kd6 38.Bc2 Rg8 39.Bf5 h5 40.Kf4 Nxg4 41.Rd3+ Kc5 42.Rd7 a5 43.Rh7 Nf6 44.Rh6 Nd5+ 45.Ke5 Re8+ 46.Be6 Nc7 0-1.